It is with great regret that I put this blog on hold. Clearly, I haven't had time to post in months. Things are great on the farm - I just don't have time for all of my interests, and this blog has been put on the back burner so much that I just need to accept it and move on. Thanks to all of you who became my friends through this blog - I wish all of you nothing but blessings and happiness.
Well, I really should have posted this a long time ago. My apologies to all of you - I simply haven't had time to blog this summer. I started teaching anesthesia this summer, and since I have only been out of school for a year I spend a great deal of time making absolutely sure that I am not giving out erroneous information!
I spent summer weekends studying with the outgoing seniors who were preparing for their board exams, and I've been working forty hours a week in the operating room and ten to twenty a week in the classroom. It has been an exciting time, if a bit brutal! The good news is that fall brings a lighter workload and (hopefully) a return to sanity. And I'll post a little more often now that I have time to breathe again!
Here I am at a faculty meeting - a far cry from my usual scrubs and mask! Or jeans and work shoes here on the farm! Thank you all (yet again!) for your patience as I work through the craziness that is my life!
I made a special field trip this week, along with a couple of our resident chicks, to see Hannah . We had a nice visit, as you can see here.
Sorry about the poor quality of the photos - we used my cell phone camera to take them! Hannah lacks fine motor skills, but she was definitely interested in these babies! She just needed a little help to fine-tune her snuggles!
In fact, I think our visit excited Hannah enough that she quickly tired out, as you can see below. Look at that sleepy face! The lovely lady in the photo is Hannah's nurse, Bobbie, who graciously agreed to help Hannah enjoy her visit with the chicks AND to have her photo published on this blog.
And, yes, everyone involved made sure their hands were clean after we played with the baby chicks! With the nurse and Mom, Dad and Big Brother on patrol, no germs had a chance!
One thing the visit highlighted was Hannah's desperate need for a new room. She's growing fast and all of her equipment and supplies take up most of the space in her room. Hannah's Mom is working on fundraising for a new room, but these things take time, so Hannah, the nurses and the family are making the best of the situation for now.
The family suffered a serious setback a few months ago when someone broke into the family van and stole Hannah's wheelchair. If you know anyone with any kind of physical limitations, you know that the equipment that keeps them mobile is a lifeline. You can't look at a specially-designed pediatric-sized wheelchair and NOT realize that it belongs to a special needs child. What kind of lowlife steals a wheelchair from a special needs child?
At any rate, it looks like the wheelchair is being replaced, and the fundraising efforts are still ongoing. If you get a chance, stop by Hannah's blog and say hello!
This is my favorite time of year - I have flowers blooming everywhere, little seedlings are popping up in the garden and we have baby chicks brooding under a heat lamp in the garage. And, of course, the hummingbirds are returning from their winter migration!
We have several hummingbird feeders that we hang every spring. By midsummer, it's a veritable hummingbird buffet and we're refilling the feeders every couple of days. The little birds are fearless - they'll feed even if people are sitting on the porch a few feet from the feeders.
We love watching them - they swoop and dive and have epic battles over access to the feeders. A couple of years ago we even had a white hummingbird - she stayed for most of the summer, but hasn't returned since.
We make our own hummingbird solution using one cup of sugar to four cups of water. We don't use food coloring - the feeders attract the birds just fine without it, and some experts think the coloring might be harmful to the birds. Some websites advocate boiling the sugar solution, but we use well water, so it doesn't contain some of the impurities you might find in water from a municipal supply.
Last year things really got busy after the babies hatched - we had young birds and older birds visiting the feeders, and taking advantage of all the hummingbird-friendly plants I put in the flowerbeds. At one point I counted twenty birds at the various feeders and perching on the flowers. No wonder we were refilling those feeders so often!
We planted our potatoes last week here at Clay Hill Farm. I don't grow potatoes in the ground, though - I grow them in barrels. It's really easy, and the yields are very good. You can grow up to forty pounds of potatoes in each barrel, depending upon the size of the barrel.
Potato plants are actually attractive, and they look good in containers. Only these containers can help cut your grocery bill this fall, and growing your own potatoes is fun!
If you want to grow your own potatoes in a barrel, select your container first. You can use a barrel, or a large pot, or a growing bag, or one of the commercially available potato barrels. I've even heard of using old tires, and stacking them as the plants grow. Potatoes are remarkably versatile and will grow almost anywhere.
Make sure there are holes or an opening in the bottom of your container for drainage. Put three inches (or so) of dirt in the bottom of the container. Season your seed potatoes by cutting them into chunks with one or two eyes per chunk, and let them sit and dry for a day or so. Then plant your seed potato chunks in the dirt.
When the potato plants get three or four inches high, cover all but the top inch in more dirt, Keep doing that until your container is full of dirt. This essentially creates a very long root, and little potatoes will sprout all along the length of it.
When the plants have flowered and the flowers have died back, your potatoes are ready to harvest. Tip the barrel and pick up your potatoes. It's that easy. You can harvest new potatoes in the summer by gently reaching into the soil and pulling out the baby spuds before the big harvest in the fall, but we usually don't do that. We wait for the big motherlode in early fall - taters everywhere!!!!
We dump a barrel every couple of weeks when it's time to harvest the potatoes. This helps keep the potatoes from spoiling, as they might if we harvested all the barrels at once.
I don't re-use potato barrel dirt from one year to the next. This year's potato dirt will go into the compost pile and spend a year or so helping the worms break down vegetable wastes and chicken and horse manure before I put it back into circulation in a raised bed or container or tilled into a flower bed. This is because potatoes are susceptible to blight and you don't want to allow the blight to establish itself in your dirt.
If you want more information on growing your own potatoes, here are some links:
Long-term readers of this blog may recall that Clay Hill Farm is actually a little less than half of a bigger, shared farm that we call Thistledew Farm. The name came about when Melissa and I were joking about names for the farm - Melissa and her husband had picked Thistledew as a name many years ago, and I pointed out the big clay mound where our building site had been cleared. "I have to name this side Clay Hill!" And, it's been Clay Hill and Thistledew ever since.
So, many of the things we do around here are joint ventures. Melissa and I garden together, care for the horses and chickens together, and generally collaborate on all manner of things. I made it through anesthesia school, in part, due to the support of everyone here at Thistledew.
And my standing joke during my senior year in anesthesia school involved a tractor as a graduation present to myself, and to everyone else for putting up with me during those long years. It wasn't entirely a joke, though - we really do need a tractor around here. And now we have one! We went to the local Kubota dealership and debated the merits of the various tractors. Here's Melissa, trying one on for size:
Everybody had different priorities for the tractor - the guys wanted a backhoe for some of the heavy work, and Melissa and I wanted a tiller. We needed a tractor that was big enough to handle the heavy work but not so big that we couldn't maneuver it in tight spaces around the farm.
We finally settled on a tractor that fit everyone's needs. We hope! And here we are at tractor school, with the perfect specimen! Isn't she gorgeous?
Melissa and I wanted to name her Bunny, because she came to us at Easter Weekend. But the boys vetoed that, and suggested an alternative - Smokey. This isn't a bad name - we live on the edge of the Smokey Mountains, after all. And I went to anesthesia school (and now work part-time) at The University of Tennessee, where the mascot is Smokey and the school color is bright orange.
Here's the real Smokey in his regalia:
And our own Smokey has already been hard at work, tilling the ground for our spring garden. But I haven't had the nerve to drive her yet!
Happy Easter, everyone! I was on call yesterday and had to go in for about four hours - not too bad. Then we had some unexpected visitors, so we threw dinner together and had a nice visit, which has extended into today.
I replanted my porch containers and got a flower bed cleaned out in the interim, but there's still a lot of work to be done. Oh, and I finally got my (our!) graduation present - but that's for another post!
Thank Goodness It's Friday! I have the day off today and I'm on call tomorrow, and I'm really praying that nobody needs surgery tomorrow. I know that's unlikely, but can you imagine being in the hospital Easter weekend? I don't wish that on anyone.
This has been a very busy week. I worked, of course, but during all of my normal down-time I helped with interviews for the new class of student nurse anesthetists. That was an eye-opening experience! I had no idea how much work went into it.
All of the candidates send in their files - transcripts, work histories, application essays, and various other items. Each item is given a numerical score. All of those numerical scores are tallied up and the top forty or so candidates are invited for an interview.
Then the interview takes place. We ask a series of questions and each answer gets a numerical score. These scores are tallied with the pre-interview scores and we come up with the top fifteen candidates, who are then invited to join the program. I've simplified this here, because the process actually took several weeks and involved some discussion/debate - each faculty member had different ideas about what makes the perfect candidate!
We had a really great group of applicants this time. We honestly could have taken anybody in the top thirty or so, and had a strong class. This makes it difficult, because sometimes the thing that separates one candidate from another is simply a few points on a test. I really hope that some of the folks who didn't get in this year will be persistent enough to re-apply next year, because I really liked so many of them!
And, essentially, I've taken on a second job with this faculty thing. I'm excited about it - I love working with students and I love to teach and I think I can be good at it, but we'll see. For the moment, I have the day off and there's a chicken coop to clean and garden beds to build and I really ought to muck out the pastures. My pretty suit is hanging in the closet and today's uniform is old jeans and a t-shirt. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Well, I have fallen off of the Wardrobe Refashion wagon before I even got started. I'm doing some teaching at the university (guest lectures and such) and I will be involved in candidate interviews next week.
So, I started going through my closet and realized that the last time I bought a suit was five years ago when I interviewed for anesthesia school. Looking out-of-date doesn't bother me, but ill-fitting clothes do, and since I haven't lost that last few pounds I needed something that actually fit.
I'm ashamed to admit that my sewing skills aren't up to producing an executive-level suit. So, I bought a nice, neutral year-round suit. And, since I was off the wagon already, I bought two blouses to go with it.
And, then I bought some new workout clothes, because although my ratty sweats are fine at the farm, they do look kind of out of place at the somewhat upscale (but cheap!) gym we belong to. Although eventually I think I can learn to make workout gear - it doesn't look terribly complicated.
So, there's my sad tale. I whined to my husband about it, and he was unimpressed. "It's about time you spent some of the money you earn on yourself!" No sympathy from that quarter, I'm afraid!
The Cyberspace Monster has been stalking me! It follows me from blog to blog and eats my comments. Please bear with me if I double (or triple!) comment on your posts for a bit until I get this straightened out!
I just watched this series today on DVD, and I loved it. It was a fabulous portrayal of life in England during World War II, complete with air raids and food rationing. I am tempted to buy it and watch it every time I feel the urge to wallow in self-pity. The deprivation was astonishing! I knew there was food rationing during World War II, but I had no idea to what extent. This series was eye-opening.
In my experience, the people who lived through the 30's and 40's are some of the most stoic and sensible people we see, and viewing this series made me understand why that might be the case. There simply wasn't time to whine and feel sorry for yourself. If you survived, it's because you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps and made do with what you had.
I think that's what I love about all of my blogging friends. We may not suffer under the same deprivation as our mothers and grandmothers and fathers and grandfathers did, but all of you are smart and resourceful and creative, and I am sure that any of you would manage beautifully if you found yourselves in a situation where everything depended on your intelligence and resourcefulness and ability to survive.
So, give yourselves a pat on the back, from me, and if you get the chance to see 1940's House, I highly recommend that you watch it. With your kids, if you can, so you can point out to them (as I did to my son) exactly how spoiled modern children have become! :)
I finally had a good call shift - I went in to work at 11 a.m. and was done by 6:30 p.m. and I had a lunch break in there. One minor issue with a patient undergoing heart surgery, but we got that straightened out and he should recover nicely. And I am one well-rested chick! :) Speaking of chicks -
spring is finally here, and we have baby chicks coming in a couple of weeks! Nothing says spring like baby chicks! They are so cute and sweet - I can't wait!
And then there are my favorite type of spring chicks... I know they have no redeeming nutritional value whatsoever. But I don't care. I love them. I don't eat very many of them, but every Easter I treat myself to a little package of Peeps.
And I have a Cadbury Creme Egg. But not both at the same time. Well, not every year, anyway! Okay, one year I didn't have them both at the same time. I ate some Peeps first and then I ate the creme egg. And then I ran ten miles.
One part of that last paragraph is a complete fabrication; you'll never guess which part! :)
Okay, I know I'm supposed to be making/recycling all of my clothes. But I might have to make an exception for these beauties: Punjammies. The story behind them is amazing and it's definitely a cause I could support. So, what say you, friends? Would I be cheating if I bought a pair of those lovely PJ's?
Luckily for me, they've had lots of good press lately (much of it from Pioneer Woman) and they're sold out of almost everything, so I have time to mull it over a bit while they replenish their stock. But wouldn't you love a pair of those pants to sleep in this summer?
As Clay Hill is only a tiny division of Thistledew :), it is appropriate to give you the link to our sister site, here: http://thistledewfarm.blogspot.com/. There you'll find another perspective on our adventures!